INDIANAPOLIS – Under the theme “Keeping the Dream Alive,” more than 1,000 United Methodists from across Indiana shared in one of ten Africa University Campaign Rallies beginning at Columbia City UMC, Sunday afternoon, Sept. 15 and ending at Methodist Temple UMC in Evanston, Sunday afternoon, Dec. 8.
The Indiana Conference Africa University Campaign completed all ten district rallies during the fall and now prepares to receive major donor and local church commitments towards the $1.6 million campaign to raise funds for a professorship chair and endowed student scholarships during the next three years (2014-2016).
The highlight of the rallies was the presentations by Africa University graduates now here in the United States completing higher education and preparing to return to Africa in the future.
In Columbia City, Linden and Dayton, AU graduate Eric Mulanda, now a student at Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary in Evanston, Ill., originally from Liberia, told his audiences that he was employed by a mining company in the Democratic Republic of Congo upon graduation from AU. He said his employer wanted more AU grads.
Mulanda thanked Hoosier United Methodists for their generous contributions to the scholarship fund. He was grateful for these funds in providing his education. He said education is key for the church in Africa and for the formation of Africa.
In Greensburg, Indianapolis and Muncie, Dr. Artemus Gaye, told audiences he knew the realities of the Liberian civil war as a young man when he tried to join one of the rebel forces, but weighed the importance of education and faith then became a Christian and chose education rather than war.
Gaye is a graduate of an Indiana Operation Classroom-sponsored school in Liberia, where he did so well he was offered a full scholarship to Africa University in the 1990s. He continued his education and obtained a B.S. degree from Trinity College in Evansville, a M.Div. from Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary in Evanston, Ill., and in 2011 a Ph.D. from Loyola University in Chicago. He is now president and founder of The Prince Ibrahima and Isabella Freedom Foundation of Chicago and president/owner of The Royal Sports Agency, promoting sports for development and peace. He plans to return to Liberia to live.
In Kokomo after returning from a tornado alert, Nov. 17, the Rev. Emmanuel Naweji, a 2005 graduate of AU, said when he left the Democratic Republic of Congo for AU, he had $500, no passport, knew 20 English words and had a full scholarship to the school of Agriculture and Natural Resources. Today he is pastor of Asbury United Methodist Church in Bettendorf, Iowa, having graduated from Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary with a Master of Divinity Degree. In addition to his role as a pastor, he is in the Doctor of Ministry program at the University of Dubuque.
Naweji said AU is a place of opportunity, a place of training and experience and a place that teaches how to live peaceably with other people. He said AU is a world changer, because students from more than 20 African countries learn how to wage peace and stop the civil strife that permeates the continent.
“Education is a gift, the best gift one can give to an African young person. This is the only thing that can change Africa. The skills taught (at AU) will handle conflict and transform Africa,” Naweji said.
In New Albany and Evansville, the Rev. Ilgha Monga Ilunga, a native of North Katanga in the Democratic Republic of Congo and a graduate of Africa University, emphasized the importance of a college degree in Africa. She illustrated how the roles of peacemaking and conflict resolution are part of both instruction and campus life at AU, an emphasis that she and others believe will change Africa for the better.
After graduating from AU, she came to the United States to study theology and graduated with a M.Div. degree from Saint Paul School of Theology in Kansas City, Mo. Ilunga is an ordained Elder of the Nebraksa Conference, where she serves two rural churches at Kenesaw and Holstein, in south central Nebraska.
Each rally also featured local musical talent to lead participants in singing before and during the rally. District Superintendents welcomed their members. The Rev. Bill Keith, a retired pastor and AU Campaign chairperson, explained how the $1.6 million pledged and received would be used to endow a Chair of Agriculture and Natural Resources at AU ($1 million) and the remaining $600,000 would be used to endow student scholarships.
Indiana Bishop Mike Coyner emphasized the importance of giving not only for the furtherance of Africa University into the future, but also the importance giving makes in the life of the giver, who learns gratitude in new ways.
During most of the campaigns, audiences heard from individual congregations about how they plan to raise the needed dollars and share the word about Africa University and its important educational ministry for the well-being of all of Africa.
Each rally also included an eight-minute video featuring AU Vice President of Development Jim Salley, who explained the importance of education to African youth today. Salley is based at AU’s Office of Development and Foundation in Nashville, Tenn. All funds given to the campaign are invested here in the United States and transferred when needed to AU in Zimbabwe. Finances for the school are invested here in U.S. dollars, because of the financial uncertainty in Zimbabwe.
Currently, a quiet AU Campaign is being conducted by AU Campaign Committee members and friends toward major gifts. This quiet campaign will continue through March. From March until the end of the year, churches will be challenged to make pledges, both church and individual. A progress report will be given in May during the annual conference session.
All pledges will be managed through the United Methodist Foundation of Indiana based in Fishers. Pledges can be made by check or electronic transfer from the UMFI’s website.
In the meantime, information, audio visuals and other resources are available online at www.inumc.org/au.
“Education is a gift, the best gift one can give to an African young person. This is the only thing that can change Africa…”
– Emmanuel Naweji
The Rev. Bill Keith is chairperson of the AU Campaign.
Bishop Mike Coyner was present for all ten rallies, where he talked about the importance of giving in the life of a Christian.
During each rally, local groups provided music, like this group in Columbia City.